Fed­eral call for more rig­or­ous driver train­ing

Big Rigs - - NEWS - Quinn Jones

THE Fed­eral Govern­ment is de­mand­ing that its own ed­u­ca­tion reg­u­la­tor “take a more ac­tive role” in the de­liv­ery of heavy ve­hi­cle train­ing fol­low­ing the re­lease of a se­nate re­port into road safety.

Truck­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions, how­ever, are also call­ing for train­ing guidelines to be­come stan­dard­ised across the na­tion.

The Ru­ral and Re­gional Af­fairs and Trans­port Ref­er­ences Com­mit­tee in­quiry into as­pects of road safety in Aus­tralia handed down its rec­om­men­da­tion that the Aus­tralian Skills Qual­ity Author­ity be­come a more vo­cal voice in the trans­port in­dus­try.

“Through­out the in­quiry, the com­mit­tee’s over­rid­ing con­cern has rested with pre­par­ing heavy ve­hi­cle drivers for the real chal­lenges on our roads,” the re­port read.

“De­spite some progress to­wards har­mon­i­sa­tion and im­proved stan­dards, wit­nesses have pro­vided ev­i­dence of a gap be­tween the ideal and re­al­ity of heavy ve­hi­cle train­ing in Aus­tralia.”

The re­port con­firms the find­ings of re­lated re­search con­ducted by Na­tional Trans­port In­sur­ance, which called for a stronger fo­cus on train­ing to min­imise the risk of road ac­ci­dents.

The Na­tional Truck Ac­ci­dent Re­search Cen­tre, an in­de­pen­dent re­search fa­cil­ity funded by the NTI, found “young and/or in­ex­pe­ri­enced li­cence hold­ers’ driver train­ing and skills eval­u­a­tion does not ad­e­quately cover high­way ap­pli­ca­tions”.

Both re­ports re­flect at­ti­tudes within the truck­ing com­mu­nity, with a Bigs Rigs poll show­ing 81 per cent of vot­ers agreed cur­rent re­quire­ments for a heavy ve­hi­cle li­cence weren’t tough enough, while 34 per cent said a driver needed 100 hours or more of in­struc­tion to gain their heavy rigid li­cence.

The calls for greater train­ing, how­ever, have also been met with a push for con­sis­tent lev­els of ed­u­ca­tion across the coun­try.

Aus­tralian Truck­ing As­so­ci­a­tion chief of staff Bill McKin­ley said a stan­dard­ised train­ing regime would bet­ter spot prob­lems and move quickly to rec­tify the sit­u­a­tion.

“We do need to make sure that the ba­sic stan­dards are the same and that the na­tional in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the (Reg­is­tered Train­ing Of­fice) – who de­liver the train­ing and in many cases can ac­cess govern­ment fund­ing to do that – and the state reg­u­la­tory arms hap­pen on a con­sis­tent and di­rect basis so that when ac­tion is needed, it hap­pens straight away,” Mr McKin­ley said.

Scott’s Trans­port safety and com­pli­ance man­ager Phillip Forster said the lack of unity across the states and ter­ri­to­ries was caus­ing “great dis­par­ity”.

“In our tests that we are check­ing our­selves, we are find­ing great dis­par­ity in the test­ing regimes in all the states,” Mr Forster said.

“I think that some­thing needs to be done to make them all the same. For ex­am­ple, in many states a B-dou­ble driver does not have to back his truck to get a li­cence.”

Those sen­ti­ments were echoed by Warwick Bur­rows of BC Train­ing, who said ed­u­ca­tion prac­tices quickly changed from state line to state line.

“Our real prob­lem comes where there are cross­bor­der dif­fer­ences be­tween the ex­pected qual­ity or as­sess­ment cri­te­ria,” Mr Warwick said.

“You can, for ex­am­ple, go

to Queens­land and get your B-dou­ble li­cence and come back in 50 hours across the bor­der, change your li­cence quickly enough and drive down with a New South Wales MC li­cence and not have done any real ex­pe­ri­ence in a lesser or greater truck, be it HC or what­ever.

“Up there they can get an HR li­cence, have some­one sign a let­ter and take it into Roads up there. They give them a B-dou­ble and away they go.”

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